When a question is closed as duplicate, or unclear, or off-topic, and I have already posted an answer, should I delete my answer?

  • 16
    No. Closure is not a finite state. A question could be in dispute (such as when the community is split on whether we accept question), or it could be edited for clarification of unclear, to remove the off-topic statements or to narrow something that is too broad. If a question stays closed for a long while it will eventually be deleted, with your answer along with it anyway.
    – Robotnik Mod
    Feb 10, 2016 at 2:32
  • 1
    @Robotnik Questions that are closed as duplicates aren't automatically deleted are they? That seems counterproductive.
    – DCShannon
    Feb 13, 2016 at 6:09
  • @DCShannon - no they arent, and yeah I forgot to address that use case. In duplicates case the answer(s) can either be merged into the other question, or left on the duplicate in case anyone hits the dupe
    – Robotnik Mod
    Feb 13, 2016 at 9:40
  • 1
    @DCShannon They are not deleted automatically to give time for the asker to clarify their question if it is similar but requires a more specific answer and would be wrong to edit the original question to also encompass that element. They can also be used to guide people to the right answer, there is a million ways to ask the same question making it impossible for 100% of people to find it even after several attempts.
    – rom016
    Feb 13, 2016 at 15:03

1 Answer 1


Fleshing out my above comments:

No, you shouldn't manually delete your answer on a closed question. Why not? Because question closure is not a finite state. The question could be:

  • In dispute
    • When the community is split on whether we accept the question. Take this recent relevant example (we seem to have about 1 a week at this stage).
  • Edited in an attempt to have it reopened. An edit could be
    • For clarification (if the question is closed as 'Unclear').
    • To remove 'Off-Topic' statements and focus down on something we can answer.
    • To narrow the scope so it isn't 'Too Broad'.

Questions are first placed 'On Hold', with any edit automatically bumping the question into the 'Reopen' review queue.

If a question stays closed for a long while it will eventually be deleted, with your answer along with it anyway. Except for duplicates. Duplicates are special snowflakes: they aren't deleted; instead they are kept around as 'signposts' leading to the more canonical question. In the case of a duplicate, your answer will either:

  • Remain on the duplicate question, hopefully helping anyone that stumbles across it
  • Be merged over to the existing canonical question, (with this being a moderator-level privilege).

If instead you do delete your answer:

  • You will lose any rep gained (or lost for that matter)
    • Note that once questions and answers reach a certain age, deletion will not remove the rep effects they earned you.
  • Your answer will not be merged onto a canonical question should the situation arise.
  • It most likely counts as a mark towards an answer suspension*.
    • Not a real worry unless you're deleting a lot of answers, but it's worth noting anyway.

* Take note: it's better to have 3 answers with negative scores then 3 deleted answers! 1 answer upvote negates 5 downvotes worth of lost rep, so try and improve your answers before resorting to deleting them!

  • 1
    +1, but I think you're misusing the word "finite". I think you're looking for "terminal" or "final". You could conceivable use "infinite" to indicate that it doesn't end, but not "finite" which means that it has bounds and is not infinite.
    – DCShannon
    Feb 18, 2016 at 19:07

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